Senior influx: Jasper Highlands draws retirees and those planning retirement homes from 47 states

Staff Photo by Matt Hamilton / Kirk Kruse sits on his front porch at his home at Jasper Highlands in Jasper, Tenn. on Thursday, May 13, 2021.

Kirk and Cindi Kruse first came to the Chattanooga area more than a decade ago when their son decided to enroll at Lee University in Cleveland.

"We immediately fell in love with Tennessee and knew someday we would retire here," says Kirk Kruse, a former hospital manager who lived most of his life around Geneva, Illinois, west of Chicago.

The Illinois couple toured a variety of lake, mountain and other retirement resorts in East Tennessee and northern Georgia before deciding to buy into Jasper Highlands, a mountaintop development that has attracted retirees and near-retirees from 47 states and six foreign countries over the past decade.

"Everyone here is so friendly and there certainly is a better climate here than up North," Kruse says.

The Kruses moved into a new, 1,600-square-foot, two-bedroom home atop Jasper Mountain this spring and are quickly making Tennessee their home.